I am on Twitter, but not a fan. Other than sharing the articles we publish here over there, there is really nothing else I find interesting in there. At times days or weeks can pass without me opening the Twitter App or even visiting the Twitter website, and that comes at a cost – missing out on current gossip and latest breaking news. The other weekend Larry Madowo came to my radio and made some jokes in regards to something that presumably happened to Sauti Sol (or is it something they presumably did?) during the holidays. I had no clue.
One reason I do not do Twitter as much as some addicts is because there isn’t really any attachments with followers – or those I am following. Most times, I can’t identify with their rants or lack thereof. The second reason is that whenever I want to tweet my mind, I always wish that the Twitter character limit ought to have been 160 characters since, close to 100 percent of the time in those rare occasions that I decide to tweet my mind, I find myself editing my thoughts to fit back to the 140 characters. My wish for Twitter characters limit to extend to 160 characters stem from the fact that I hardly surpass the 160 character limits when sending typical SMSes; but equally I never compose phone based text messages that do not exceed the 140 characters.
I am not alone. Many Twitter users have found third party platforms that allow one to tweet beyond the 140 characters very useful. There are others who also find it useful to compose their thoughts outside Twitter, take screenshots of their thoughts, and share them on Twitter in form of pictures. The usage of Twitter in such ways prove that the 140 characters limit was a misnomer. According to speculations, the growth of Twitter has been hampered by the 140 character limit, and starting this quarter, Twitter will deal with the issue once for all, not by expanding the character limit to something more reasonable like 160 or even 320 character limits, but to a whooping 10,000 characters limit.
Now, 10,000 characters are extremely many. Compare that against these: A typical Press Release article in this website will have approximately 2,000 characters, whereas a full opinion one page article will likely be 6,000 characters long. Rarely do we do articles that near the 10,000 articles. It would therefore mean that if anyone will take their time to compose a tweet worth 10,000 characters, that person ought to have written an article for a blog site.
But maybe that’s what Twitter is targeting. In an attempt to limit the number of times people leave their services to third party content, Facebook rolled out a feature they call Instant Articles allowing content creators to host their content on Facebook, and at the same time allowing them to have a share of the ad revenues generated by their contents. At this time it is not clear whether Twitter will also target content creators to host their content on Twitter via the 10,000 characters limit, but what’s obvious is that there are those who would prefer to publish their long thoughts directly on Twitter instead of doing so on a blog site or even on Facebook.
What will happen when everyone publishes long tweets beyond the 140 characters limit? Will your Twitter Timeline be filled up with only one tweet at a time? No. What Twitter plans to do is to limit the visible part of tweets to the first 140 characters, then if a tweep finds a tweet interesting, he or she will have the option to expand the tweet to read more. I believe many will find this very useful although there are those who might get worried that instead of spending time scrolling down their timelines reading through quick tweets, they will be wasting time expanding tweets one at a time with likelihood of missing out on new and more interesting tweets.
Personally I am not sure that the expanded Twitter character limit will influence me to loving Twitter more. In the last part of last year, Twitter introduced the 10,000 characters limit to their DM service but that didn’t affect my DM tendencies. Although nowadays I love contacting Safaricom and Airtel via their DMs as the 10,000 characters limit now allows me to express my problem in one complete direct message, the number of times I send DMs haven’t changed. The last time I sent a DM was on November 24, 2015.
Since I know through looking at random Twitter profiles that most Kenyans on Twitter do not use their Twitter accounts as they use Facebook, WhatsApp or even Instagram, Twitter indeed needs to do something drastic in order for many people to find Twitter more interesting and useful.